Monday, December 9, 2013

The Four Factors: Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free Primer

Whether he realized it or not, Greg Herenda's formula to upset Seton Hall was rooted in the Four Factors. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)


NEWARK, NJ - This time out, our tempo-free treatise is on the oft-mentioned, all-important Four Factors. Devised by analytics expert Dean Oliver, these are four major determinants in winning and becoming a successful team. Now, ’winning’ three of the four factors does not necessarily guarantee a single game victory. On the other hand, that type of dominance can put a team in a strong position to capture the contest. Let us begin:        
         
For  last Sunday’s 58-54 victory by FDU over Seton Hall, we will look at the Four Factors. The game, at the Prudential Center, was a 62-possession affair.

The offensive efficiencies:
FDU                    94
Seton Hall           87

Effective field goal percentage:

EFG =  FGM + (3pt FGM * 2)/ FGA

The reward for burying a three point shot. Or a number of them. FDU hit 20 field goals, 5 of them from beyond the arc. That gives us a field goal made number of 22.5. They attempted 46 shots so the 22.5 divided by the 46 gives a 49% showing. Seton Hall also scored 20 field goals. The Pirates hit 7 three pointers. Their numbers were 23.5 divided by 53 attempts for a 44% eFG mark. The actual field goal percentages for the game were:

FDU           43.5%
Seton hall  37.7%

          You can see eFG rewarded the Hall added percentage points for knocking down those seven treys.

Free Throw Rate:

FTR = FTA/FGA

Free throws attempted divided by field goals attempted. In general perimeter shooting teams will have a lower free throw rate. A higher rate means your offense is getting in a position to draw fouls, or the officials are religiously employing the new points of emphasis, that’s another story. In essence, you want your FT rate to be higher, especially than that of the opposition.

          FDU attempted 20 free throws. That figure divided by 46 field goal attempts gave a 44% FTR. Seton Hall attempted just 11. Their free throws tried divided by the 53 field goal attempts equals 21%. Clearly, FDU stayed out of foul trouble while showing the ability (the Hall’slate game fouling while trailing added a few attempts) to draw fouls.

Offensive Rebounding Percentage:

OREB Percentage = OREB/ (OREB + DEF REB)

          This metric gives an indication how hard a team is battling on the boards and, in general, hustling overall. Another consideration in offensive boards is they A. can get the oposition in foul trouble and B. can give the offense great scoring opportunities as a number of offensive rebounds are secured in the paint with the defense in a less than ideal position.

          FDU had 10 offensive rebounds. Seton Hall pulled down 18 defensive boards. The 10 of FDU are divided by 28 for a 36% OREB rate. Seton Hall grabbed 11 offensively, FDU had 23 on the defensive end. Those numbers give us 11 divided by 34 for a 32% OREB rate. Again, FDU had a slight edge in this category.

Turnover Rate:

TO Rate = TO/Possessions

Simple. Divide turnovers by possessions. What is a good TO rate? Experts agree 20%. You want your defense transforming 20 or more percent of opposing possessions into turnovers. On offense you want to be under 20%. Think of it, a 20% rate means one of every five possessions terminates in a turnover. Not good at all.

          FDU had 16 turnovers divided by 62 possessions for a 26% (very high) rate. The Hall coughed it up 15 times for a 24% (another high rate).

The Table:
The summary in a neat, detailed graphic which affords a quick read.


FDU
Seton Hall
eFG
49
44
FT Rate
44
21
OREB %
36
32
TO Rate
26
24


          Following the victory, FDU coach Greg Herenda said his formula for victory would be to defend without fouling, rebound, and run good offense. Without even watching the game, the Four Factors could tell you the Knights did jobs one and two well, but needed improvement in the third category.


          FDU ‘won’ three of the Four Factors and won the game. Still, it was a two-possession affair, and another turnover on FDU’s part and couple of Hall field goals could have changed the outcome. For respective coaches, Greg Herenda of FDU and Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard, the Four Factors give an indication where their respective teams were strong and what areas need to be addressed. 

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